Tuesday, December 20, 2022

2022 Holiday Greeting 'Card' -12 Practical Ways to Speed up Planning Approvals (For the 12 Days of Christmas)

A few years ago, I offered 12 Affordable Housing Ideas. Last year, it was 12 'Missing Middle' Housing concepts. But if you can't get timely approvals, it's often all for naught. So, this year I am pleased to offer 12 ways to speed up the municipal approval process, based on 50 years planning and development experience. I welcome your suggestions for a follow up in January!

Saturday, December 17, 2022

Cote d'Azur - Food Miscellaneous

I was surprised to find so many different frozen escargot packages in the supermarket. Can you get these here?

Shopping for wine in a French supermarket was a real challenge. Unfortunately, Sally has now decided she will only drink Chablis and Pouilly Fuse

Of course, a salade ni├žoise!

Steak tartare as served in a small restaurant in Cap Ferrat

This supermarket Paella was so good, we had it twice.

I felt guilty eating Italian food in France, but this looked too good to resist.

I felt even guiltier ordering a hamburger, but had to see if it was very different from what we are served. (The cheese was different.)

A croque monsieur from a shopping centre fast food outlet. It was excellent!


Cote d'Azur - Auto Miscellaneous

One of the things I enjoy seeing in Europe are the different cars. While today too many cars are beginning to look the same, French automobiles always have a few quirky details. Here are a few auto related photos from our short trip

I noticed a number of different electric cars around France that I hadn't seen in Canada. Here's just one of them.

This electric shuttle bus offered free trips around the downtown of Nice
I noticed a lot more street parking charging stations compared to Canada

While parking is always a challenge in French cities, there really is no excuse to block two pedestrian crosswalks...even if you do drive a Porsche.

While some of the parking garages we visited were absolutely awful, this one was very attractive. Why don't we make more of an effort to beautify parking garages in Vancouver?

Around Nice - Beaulieu-sur-Mer, Villefranche and Villa Kerylos

Outside of Cap Ferrat and Nice are a number of delightful towns and villages. One of our favourites was Beaulieu-sur-Mer, referred to as Beaulieu with what guidebooks describe as its "dazzling Belle Epoque architecture". Beaulieu was once home to Gustave Eiffel who designed the seafront casino. Nearby was a remarkable place - Villa Kerylos, built between 1902 and 1908 for an eccentric individual who was passionate about Ancient Greece. As a result he had a villa designed which is described as a copy of an ancient villa, except for the glass windows. With its mosaics and archeological collection, it was well worth a visit, especially on a rainy day.

Villefranche-sur-Mer is immediately adjacent to Cap Ferrat and home to Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild. We visited it a number of years ago, and although I subsequently read The Hare with the Amber Eyes, which tells the remarkable story of the Ephrussi family, we didn't visit this time since it was closed when we tried to see it.

We nearly missed seeing Villa Kerylos since we couldn't find a way to get inside, but eventually we succeeded and happily so.

Some of the rooms were really quite fantastic.
The villa was planned to replicate an ancient Greek villa with various courtyards and beautiful gardens

Just outside of the Villa Kerylos is La Reserve hotel and spa, a luxurious property opened in 1905. While closed for the season, one day we will hopefully get to see the inside

The view of Beaulieu, with its Belle Epoque architecture, as seen from the Villa Kerylos
Entering VilleFranche Sur Mer.

Nice. A very nice city!

Cap Ferrat is about 15 minutes from Nice, the fifth largest city in France. While not as glamourous as nearby Cannes, it is still a most attractive city with the magnificent Promenade des Anglais along the waterfront. I first went to Nice in 1976 and while expecting sandy beaches, was surprised to find just pebbles or 'galets' which are large flat grey stones. But this doesn't stop people sunbathing in the warmer weather. While I was there, it wasn't warm enough to sunbathe, but the daily 14 to 16 degree temperature was preferable to Vancouver's weather.

One of the things that most impresses me about Nice and most other French cities is the consistent low-to-midrise scale and harmonious colours. While some Facebook followers found this monotonous and boring, I did not. One thing I didn't like was the traffic and challenges finding a place to park. If you go to Nice, there's no need to rent a car. There's excellent public transit with a combination of reasonably priced trams and buses.

Here are some photos taken during my brief stay.

In addition to the excellent public transit system, here's another way to get around. I often see these in many European cities, but not in North America.

Lots of large yachts can be found around the harbour in Nice and elsewhere along the Cote d'Azur

This one is for sale....for 112 million euros

The beach is pebbly, but still busy during the warmer weather.

I never tired of driving along the waterfront with the Promenade des Anglais to the right.

While the new buildings are not always that attractive, they do respect the overall scale and harmonious colour scheme found throughout the city.

One of 

One of the things that distinguishes most European cities from North American cities is the number of public spaces and pedestrian streets and plazas.

It seems no city is complete without a Ferris wheel. Why? Because they are very profitable with a two-to-four-year payback, depending on the size.